Here below is a translation of the text of Pope Francis' homily Sunday night at the parish of Saint Joseph all’Aurelio, in the western sector of the Diocese of Rome:
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On this Sunday the Church anticipates somewhat the joy of Christmas, and therefore it is called “the Sunday of joy.” In this time, time of preparation for Christmas, we put on dark vestments for the Mass, but today there are these rose ones, so that the joy of Christmas blossoms. And the joy of Christmas is a special joy; however, it is not a joy that is only for Christmas day, it is for the whole life of a Christian. It is a serene, tranquil joy, a joy that always accompanies a Christian. Also in difficult moments, in moments of difficulty this joy becomes peace. When a Christian is a true Christians he never loses peace, even in sufferings. That peace is a gift of the Lord. Christian joy is a gift of the Lord. “Ah, Father, we have had a great lunch, we are all happy." This is good, a great lunch is fine, but this is not the Christian joy of which we speak today; Christian joy is something else. It leads us also to celebrate, it’s true, but it is something else. Therefore, the Church wants to have this Christian joy understood.
The Apostle Saint Paul said to the Thessalonians: “Brothers, always be happy” And, how can I be happy? He says: "Pray, uninterruptedly, and give thanks in everything.” We find Christian joy in prayer; it comes from prayer and also from rendering thanks to God. “Thank you, Lord, for so many beautiful things!” However, there are people who do not know how to thank God: they are always looking for something to complain about. I knew a Sister – far from here! – this Sister was good, she worked … but her life was a lamentation, a lamentation of the many things that happened …. In the convent she was called “Sister Complaint.” We understand. However, a Christian cannot live like that, always looking for something to lament. “He has something that I don’t have, he … Did you see what happened? …” This isn’t Christian! And one feels badly to meet Christians with a sad face, with that restless face of sadness, which isn’t peace. A man or woman saint never had a mournful face, never! The saints always had a joyful face or, at least in suffering, a peaceful face. The greatest suffering, Jesus’ martyrdom: He had that peaceful face and was concerned about the others: his Mother, John, the thief, he was concerned about the others.
To have this Christian joy we must first pray, then give thanks. And, how must I render thanks? Remember your life, and think of the many good things that life has given you: so many. “But, Father, it’s true, but I have received so many bad things!” – Yes, it’s true, it happens to everyone. But think of the good things” – “I had a Christian family, Christian parents, thanks be to God I have a job, my family is not suffering hunger, we are all healthy …” I don’t know, so many things, and we must thank God for this. And this accustoms us to joy. To pray, to give thanks …
And then the First Reading suggests to us another dimension that will help us to have joy: to bring to others the glad tidings. We are Christians. “Christians” comes from “Christ,” and “Christ” means “anointed.” And we are “anointed”: the Lord’s Spirit is upon me, because the Lord has consecrated me by anointing me. We are anointed: Christians means “anointed ones.” And why are we anointed? To do what? “He has sent me to bring good tidings” to whom? “To the afflicted,” “to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, (Cf. Isaiah 61:1-2). This is Christ’s vocation and also the vocation of Christians. To go to others, to those who are in need, be it in material or spiritual need … So many people suffer anguish because of family problems … To bring peace there, to bring Jesus’ anointing, the oil of Jesus that does so much good and consoles souls.
Therefore, to have this joy in preparation for Christmas, first, pray: “Lord, may I live this Christmas with true joy.” Not with the joy of consumerism which brings us to December 24 full of anguish because “ah, I’m lacking this, I’m lacking that …” No, this isn’t God’s joy. Pray.
Second: render thanks to the Lord for the good things he has given us.
Third, think how I can go to others, to those who have difficulties, problems – we think of the sick, of so many problems – to bring some anointing, peace, joy. This is the Christian’s joy. Do you agree?
There are just 15 days, somewhat less: 13 days. Let us pray during these days. But don’t forget: we pray asking for the joy of Christmas. We thank God for the many things He has given us, first of all the faith. This is a great grace. Third, we think where we can go to bring some relief, peace to those who suffer. Prayer, thanksgiving and help to others, and we will come to the Birth of the Anointed One, of Christ, anointed with grace, with prayer, with thanksgiving and help to others.
May Our Lady accompany you on this path to Christmas. But joy, joy!
[Original text: Italian]
[Translation by ZENIT]